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Susan Hill's Ghost Story - Douglas Henshall reveals all about the Boxing Day chiller

Susan Hill's Ghost Story star Douglas Hensall
(Image credit: Channel 5)

Prepare to be scared on Boxing Day...

Susan Hill’s terrifying ghost story The Woman in Black has been re-told on television, film and the stage. Now another chilling haunted-house tale from the author, The Small Hand, has been adapted into Susan Hill's Ghost Story, a new Channel 5 drama starring Shetland’s Douglas Henshall.

The 54-year-old plays antiquarian book dealer Adam, who stumbles across a derelict house en route to visiting a client.

As soon as he sets foot on the grounds, he feels a small, invisible small hand touching his, and later sees an eccentric woman in old-fashioned garb wandering in the overgrown gardens.

When he discovers that the woman was the house’s former owner Denisa (Neve McIntosh), who died years earlier, he realises strange forces are at work and feels compelled to stay, but is haunted by nightmares, the ghostly figure of a young boy and flashbacks to his troubled past.

Adam is haunted by Denisa in Susan Hill's Ghost Story

Adam is haunted by Denisa in Susan Hill's Ghost Story

We caught up with Douglas Henshall on location for Susan Hill's Ghost Story in Bannockburn, Scotland, to find out more about the Boxing Day chiller...

What can you tell us about your character Adam?

Douglas Henshall: “I think he’s one of those people who should have had therapy many years ago and didn’t. He’s constantly having to keep things down. And he's reached an age where he’s not so good at keeping them down. He’s beginning to leak and this story about the way in which that manifests itself.”

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How does he react to all the ghostly goings-on?

DH: “It is a kind of descent into a kind of full-blown break-down.”

What is Adam's relationship with his brother Hugo like?

DH: “Hugo is – I don’t want to say the moral centre of the piece – he’s the phoenix that’s already risen from the ashes. He’s he nicest person in it, and the most fully rounded human.”

Have you ever had any supernatural experiences?

DH: “Realistically, it doesn’t make any sense. I think everybody did things when they were kids when you were convinced that something weird had happened to you, say with a Ouija board. But I’m not a great believe in the supernatural or the afterlife or God. I’m pretty much a believer in enjoying your time here, because you’re going to be feeding the worms when you die!”

Will you be filming more Shetland?

DH: “Yes, we start shooting in March. We’ve been doing that for a long time, so we’re all meshed together very nicely in that slightly dysfunctional-family way that you get in showbusiness!”

Douglas Henshall in Shetland

Douglas will be back in Shetland soon (Image credit: BBC/ITV Studios/Mark Mainz)

This is on at Christmas – what will your Christmas be like at home?

DH: “Being all gung-ho and enthusiastic, I’ve volunteered to cook Christmas dinner, and there’s going to be 18 of us!”

Susan Hill's Ghost Story is on Channel 5 on Boxing Day at 9pm.

Ian writes about TV and film for TV Times, What’s on TV and TV & Satellite Week magazines. He co-hosts the weekly TV streaming podcast, Bingewatch.